Research at AIIT

Dialog with an Uncertain Future / Excerp (Irregular updates)

The 7th Installment“The Parable of the Sower”

by Yuka Kato,
Professor, Master Program of Information Systems Architecture

 “And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:8, New Testament, New American Bible translation)

 The true significance of this passage is that great blessings will be reaped when God’s word (the seed) is sown among those who hear and accept the word of God (rich soil). I will not cite it here but the same passage describes seeds falling on rocky ground where they spring up at once but quickly wither for lack of roots, or seeds falling among thorns where they are choked by the thorns and produce no grain. This parable transcends religious teachings with language that contains a wealth of suggestions for our daily lives and work. We are all aware that even if the seed is the same, the harvest may vary greatly depending on the soil where it is sown so we would like to sow our own seeds in rich soil. For the results of our work to bear abundant fruit, or to allow our ourselves to grow in some significant way…

 Rightfully, I should perhaps be writing something on the topic of my specialty of computer networks for this column, but this time I would like to use this parable as the starting point for a consideration of what it means to create rich soil and the best way to care for the soil.

 To care for the soil, I believe it is necessary to do two things: to keep changing one’s own self through continuous learning and to acquire a wider outlook by internalizing versatility. In short, I believe it is important to “continue” to learn as a matter of habit. One of the pillars of our institute and of the Master Program of Information Systems Architecture where I am affiliated, in particular, is to provide education for adults, and the perspectives of relearning and lifelong study are strongly embraced (alumni are able to attend lectures via video for ten years after graduation, etc.). The explanation one hears very often is that since this is a domain where technological progress is rapid, it is necessary to constantly brush up one’s knowledge but I myself do not believe that this is the only purpose. Learning is a powerful force outside of our own consciousness and it causes people to gradually change. People are influenced in a variety of ways by the environments that they connect with. This is only natural and it ties in with the changes that occur in individuals over the long term. However, if people do not have this awareness, learning from the environment tends to become skewed and limited once they have entered the workforce. (Of course, I acknowledge that there are many people who consciously engage in wide-ranging studies.) I believe that continuing to learn is the most fundamental behavioral model for constant change; in short, it enables an understanding of things from a broader perspective. It is not just a simplistic matter of putting the acquired technologies and skills to direct use at work but, in a fundamental sense, it is a model for caring well for the soil (this may be a liberal arts approach). Learning makes people modest. You recognize all the things you don’t know rather than the things you do know. Such action tills the soil and it is the starting point for creating rich soil. I believe that the significance of graduate school and adult education is to continue to learn in full awareness of the act of caring for the soil and to form the habit of doing so.

 After nine years of working for a company, I went back to university and once again spent my days studying. Of course, I continued my employment while I was studying, but the priority was on efficiency and I think I had distanced myself a little from the act of devoting time to learn something from zero. Even if your studies are not directly related to work, you are certain to gradually change by continuing to learn. It is not only a matter of skill or ability but your perceptions also change. Since returning to university, the continuous learning has rekindled my awareness of caring well for the soil.

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